Best USB flash drives in 2024: Top USB memory sticks

Best USB flash drives
(Image credit: Kingston)

The best USB flash drives make it a breeze to bring your most important files with you everywhere you go, though they can also be useful for when you need to move large files from one computer to another. While the best cloud storage is convenient, a USB flash drive can also serve as an excellent backup solution, especially when the internet goes down.

Choosing the right USB flash drive for your needs isn’t always that simple though as there are multiple USB connection protocols — USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 — with each one offering faster speeds than the previous ones. However, each new protocol is backwards compatible with previous ones. Upgrading to one of the best USB flash drives with a newer protocol does get you faster read and write speeds though which can help save you time when copying large files.  Also, if you want something that's harder to lose, check out our roundup of the best external hard drives.

To help you pick the best USB flash drive for you, these are 10 of our favorites. They vary by price, format, speed, physical size and storage size. Regardless of which USB drive you choose, it should hold every file you care about in a simple and easy-to-use package.

The best USB flash drives you can buy today

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Samsung Fit Plus (MUF-128AB) (Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Fit Plus (MUF-128AB)

The best flash drive overall

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.1
Storage: 32GB-256GB
Size: 0.9 x 0.7 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 0.16 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Compact design
+
Plenty of storage
+
Fast read/write speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
May be easy to misplace

If you're looking for a flash drive that offers a good mix of features and affordability, the Samsung Fit Plus (MUF-128AB) is a great place to start. 

The device's tiny design makes it easy to carry around. It's available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 32GB to 256GB, and supports USB 3.1 connectivity with data-transfer speeds up to 300 MBps. That's significantly faster than other USB memory-stick options.

To keep your data safe, the Samsung Fit Plus is water-, shock-, magnet-, temperature- and X-ray-proof, which means you can bring it just about anywhere without fear of damaging your content. Because this memory stick is backward-compatible with USB 2.0, it'll work in just about any device you have. 

Be aware, however, that the Samsung USB flash drive is a bit on the pricey side, making it not the best option for those looking to save a few bucks.

SanDisk Cruzer CZ36 (Image credit: SanDisk)

2. SanDisk Cruzer CZ36

A compact and secure USB flash drive

Specifications

USB type: USB 2.0
Storage: 16GB-256GB
Size: 2.31 x 0.8 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 0.6 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Easy to protect
+
Universal compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
USB 2.0
-
No 256-bit encryption

For years, the SanDisk Cruzer CZ36 has proven to be one of the most popular USB drives on the market. It has earned that popularity with its solid design, support for encryption and, most important, an exceedingly affordable price. 

The Cruzer CZ36 comes with a black finish and a red slider that lets you extend or retract the USB connector so you can keep your connector safe without worrying about damage.

The drive itself comes with USB 2.0 connectivity, which is on the older side. However, the SanDisk's 128-bit AES encryption and included SanDisk SecureAccess Software make this one of the best flash drives for the money. 

Overall, the SanDisk Cruzer CZ36 is a solid choice for transferring anything from music and photos to videos and business files.

Kingston Digital DataTraveler G4 (Image credit: Kingston)

3. Kingston DataTraveler G4

An unbeatable USB flash drive bargain

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.0
Storage: 32GB-128GB
Size: 2.65 x 0.4 x 0.83 inches
Weight: 0.35 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
USB 3.0 support
+
Cap protects plug
+
Easy traveling

Reasons to avoid

-
Standard read/write speeds
-
Less capacity than other options

For those who don't want to spend a lot of cash, Kingston has one of the best USB flash drives regarding value. 

The company's DataTraveler G4 starts at under $10 for a USB drive with 32GB of storage and USB 3.0 support. For just a few bucks, you can get a device that stores your content, easily and quickly transfers it, and does it all without putting itself at risk of damaging your data. 

A cap on the connector keeps the drive safe from damage when it's not in use, and thanks to a loop at the end, you can connect the DataTraveler to a keychain to reduce your chances of losing it when you're walking around town. 

That said, because the Kingston DataTraveler G4 maxes out at 128GB, you're not going to get as much storage as some of the other options available. Get this drive only if you're not transferring large amounts of data.

PNY Turbo (Image credit: PNY)

4. PNY Turbo

Lots of storage for less

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.0
Storage: 32GB-256GB
Size: 5.28 x 0.25 x 3.9 inches
Weight: 0.6 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
USB 3.0 support
+
Plenty of storage
+
Sliding collar for protection 

Reasons to avoid

-
A little pricey
-
Limited color options

PNY's popular Turbo flash drive sports both a rugged design and ample storage, making it an ideal choice for someone who often travels and doesn't want to risk losing their data. 

The USB 3.0 device offers transfer speeds of up to 10 times what you get in a comparable USB 2.0 drive. Add that to Turbo's maximum 256GB of storage, and you should be able to store nearly 48,000 songs on the device — and transfer them with ease.

The drive comes with a sliding-collar design that protects the connector when it's not in use, which is especially important for road warriors. Thanks to the device's integrated loop, you can attach the PNY Turbo to a keychain or backpack to reduce chances of misplacing it when you travel. 

Overall, the PNY Turbo offers a nice mix of features, storage and travel-friendliness, which is why it's one of the best USB flash drives.

SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880 (Image credit: Western Digital)

5. SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880

Premium finish and huge storage meets fast speeds

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.2
Storage: 128GB-1TB
Size: 2.79 x 0.84 x 0.45 inches
Weight: 0.6 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Ultrafast performance
+
Great design
+
Lifetime limited warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

SanDisk's Extreme Pro is one of its most capable USB devices, but be ready to spend some serious cash to get your hands on it. 

The drive comes with at least 128GB of storage, going all the way up to 1TB, and delivers USB 3.2 connectivity, ensuring fast data speeds. According to SanDisk, the memory stick can deliver read speeds of up to 420 MBps and write speeds of up to 380 MBps. That makes the Extreme Pro one of the best USB flash drives for pure performance.

Thanks to an aluminum finish, the Extreme Pro should be able to withstand shocks and other damage and keep working without causing you worry about your data. SanDisk's drive, which is also compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, offers a lifetime limited warranty. With 128-bit AES encryption, you can safeguard data you don't want others to steal.

Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth (Image credit: Corsair)

6. Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth

Seriously durable design

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.0
Storage: 16GB-256GB
Size: 3 x 1 x 1 inches
Weight: 1.3 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Great design
+
Outstanding protection from damage
+
Works cross-platform without drivers

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit pricey
-
Limited warranty

Corsair's Flash Survivor Stealth is all about one thing: keeping your data safe regardless of where you are or where you are going. The device has a cylindrical design and an anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum housing to limit the risk of damage if you drop it. 

This best USB flash drive pick also features a water seal to reduce chances of liquid intrusion. And it has a shock-damping collar around the ends to keep your data safe if you drop it.

Regarding connectivity, the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth supports USB 3.0. And with a maximum 256GB of storage, the memory stick will store plenty of content without  damage. But for all of that, you should be aware that this USB drive costs more than some competing devices. 

You should also know that the device ships with a limited five-year warranty; that's not bad, but it reduces your options for replacement several years down the road.

SanDisk Ultra USB-C (Image credit: SanDisk)

7. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C SDDDC2

Best for USB-C ports

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.1
Storage: 32GB-256GB
Size: 0.37 x 1.5 x 0.79 x 0.37 inches
Weight: 1.3 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
USB-C and regular USB support
+
Fast read/write speeds
+
Mobile storage for Android phones

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively pricey
-
Limited manufacturer warranty

SanDisk's Ultra Dual Drive USB-C is a slick-looking flash drive that offers plenty of storage and fast data transfers. This is easily the best USB drive for newer laptops, like the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, that have only USB-C ports. 

Since it has both USB-A and USB-C plugs — there's a slide to expose one or the other — the SanDisk Ultra USB-C offers a nice mix of fast data transfers and future-proofing, so you can be sure it'll work with a variety of devices going forward.

The memory stick comes with up to 256GB of storage and accommodates data transfers to and from a range of devices; for example, from your computer to an Android smartphone, as well as Apple's latest Macs. SanDisk says that the drive achieves data-transfer speeds of up to 150 MBps. 

When the USB flash drive is not in use, you can retract both connectors to limit chances of damage and keep your data away from harm and readily accessible. Just be aware that you'll pay a bit more for this USB-C drive compared with other options.

Kingston Digital DataTraveler Elite G2 (Image credit: Kingston)

9. Kingston IronKey Keypad 200

The best secure USB flash drive

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.2 Gen 1
Storage: 8GB-128GB
Size: 3.14 x 0.78 x 0.41 inches
Weight: 0.88 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
IP57 rated
+
Built-in key loop
+
Maximum security
+
Works across multiple devices

Reasons to avoid

-
Using the keypad could be confusing for some

The Kingston IronKey Keypad 200 isn't your ordinary flash drive as you can probably tell from the picture above. Instead of just plugging the drive into your computer to access the files stored on it, you first need to put in a PIN code using its keypad. While this may be overkill for some, those looking to securely transport their most sensitive files will likely appreciate both the design and functionality of the Kingston IronKey Keypad 200.

Besides needing to enter a pin to unlock it, the Kingston IronKey Keypad 200's circuits are coated with tamper-evident, tough epoxy to prevent others from examining the drive's circuitry without damaging it. Guessing the PIN using fingerprint residue is also out of the question as the device's keypad is coated with a protective polymer layer. If that's not enough, the Kingston IronKey Keypad 200 will also erase itself if the admin key is entered incorrectly 10 times in a row.

Available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities, this ultra-secure USB flash drive works on any device as it's both OS and device independent. If you want one of the most secure flash drives around to protect your sensitive data from thieves and snoops, the Kingston IronKey Keypad 200 is certainly worth picking up.

Samsung 32GB Bar (Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung 32GB Bar MUF-32BE3/AM

Premium (and tough) metal design

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.1
Storage: 32GB-256GB
Size: 1.58 x 0.61 x 0.47 inches
Weight: 0.4 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Great design
+
Fast read-write speeds
+
Damage-proof

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited 30-day warranty

Samsung has delivered one of the better-looking USB drives with the 32GB Bar. And if it's a head-turning device you're after, Samsung's option might be the best flash drive, period. 

The device, which is made from high-quality metal, has a ring that you can use to attach the drive to so you don't lose it. Better yet, not only is it waterproof but also shock-, magnet-, temperature and X-ray-proof, limiting the chances of damage. 

Thanks to this flash drive's USB 3.1 support, you should expect fast data transfers. You also get USB 2.0 compatibility, which means it'll work with just about any device. The Samsung Bar started off as a bit pricey compared with many other USB flash drives, but its price has dropped. This is a device that will let you easily bring your data wherever you go, and will look darn good doing it.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive (Image credit: SanDisk)

10. SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N

Works with iPhone and iPad

Specifications

USB type: USB 3.0
Storage: 32GB-256GB
Size: 2.32 x 0.51 x 0.66 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Works with iPhone, iPad
+
Plenty of storage options
+
Can free up space on Apple devices

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Adapter costs extra

If you're in the market for one of the very best USB drives available, and you're just fine spending some cash to get it, check out the SanDisk iXpand flash drive. The device starts at 32GB of storage, though you can configure the iXpand to have up to 256GB of space. It has a metal finish to improve its durability, and thanks to its USB 3.0 connectivity, the device will deliver fast data transfers.

The iXpand flash drive's most important feature is its Lightning connector, which lets you connect to an iPhone or iPad and transfer data to and from that device. Considering how difficult it can be to transfer data from those devices without Apple's help, that feature alone could be a major selling point for the iXpand. But to get all that, be ready to shell out: The SanDisk iXpand USB flash drive is on the expensive side.

How to choose the best USB drive for you

When buying a USB flash drive, you’ll want to focus on storage first. If you have a large number of files, videos, or songs you want to carry around with you, getting a USB drive with at least 64GB is critical. Most USB flash drives go up to 256GB and a few now have 1TB versions.

However, if you’re more concerned about getting a cheap memory stick for carrying a few files, you can probably get by with 16GB or 32GB of storage space.

Aside from this, you’ll also want to consider other critical features, such as read/write speeds. The faster the speed, the more data you can write to the drive quickly and access what you’re trying to see. That’s why we look for USB 3.1 support or at least, USB 3.0 support if you care about performance.

You can tell if a USB flash drive supports USB 3.0 or higher if its connector is colored blue. Most USB-C drives support USB 3.0 by default.

Another factor to consider is design. Flash drives aren’t the hottest or coolest devices but they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In terms of durability, look for USB drives with shock-proof or waterproof designs and other features that limit the chances of your drive being damaged.

Last but not least, check the warranty on a USB flash drive; a lifetime warranty is preferred but 5 years is a decent fallback option.

USB types explained

As mentioned earlier in this guide, there are a number of different USB types and protocols that you need to be aware of before buying a USB drive.

USB-A vs. USB-C

The first and probably most important you need to know about is USB-A vs. USB-C. While our USB-C vs. USB-A explainer goes into more detail, USB-A is the older variety with a larger, rectangular connection plug that can only be inserted into a port one way. USB-C is newer and has a much smaller, oval-shaped plug that’s reversible. However, you’ll also want to check out our Thunderbolt vs. USB4 guide.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.2 and USB 4.0

The number after USB indicates the version of USB that is used by a particular device. Older generations have lower numbers as well as slower transfer speeds. If you don’t need the fastest USB drive around, you can save a bit by opting for a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 drive but it will take longer to transfer files onto and off of the device.

USB 3.0: Up to 5 Gbps

USB 3.1: Up to 10 Gbps

USB 3.2: Up to 20 Gpbs

USB 4.0: Up to 40 Gbps (only available on USB-C devices)

Next: USB 4 2.0 will provide double the speed even with existing cables.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.